14 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Computer into Something Useful

Old Desktop Computer

A survey by Statistics Canada in 2011 showed that 46 percent of Canadians and 43 percent of Ontarians had e-waste to dispose of. Naturally, since then these figures have only increased, with some statistics stating that as many as 90 percent of Ontarians have out-of-use electronic devices and only about 40 percent recycle these old devices.

The reasons vary, but you have to wonder how many old computers end up in a landfill. Instead of disposing of your old computer, what if could give it a new life? Try one of these 14 ways to upcycle your old computer into something useful.

Make a Digital Photo Frame

If your old laptop screen is ok and if either the hard drive or CD/DVD drive is working, you can turn your old PC into a digital photo frame using a free app like Familiar. Similar apps like Flickr Slideshow or Picasa are other options that are handy for this task. If you have a wireless connection, you could even display your Flickr photos.

External Portable Storage

If only the hard drive is still working in the old computer, you can turn it into a portable external storage, if you invest in a USB caddy. A USB caddy can be used in two different ways:

  • To retrieve data from an old hard drive and then reuse the hard drive in the caddy as a back-up
  • To create your own back-up solution cheaper than buying a packaged solution from a leading brand

A Second Monitor

If you’re a web professional, have more than one display monitor is very useful. Certainly, reusing your old PC monitor for this purpose is cheaper than buying a new one.

Donate It

A working computer that’s no longer of use to you might be a great help to someone else. Offer it on Freecycle or donate it to charitable organizations like Computers with Causes or Donate Your PC.

Add Extra Firewall Protection

With the right set of tools, you can actually use your old PC as a firewall to stand between your new PC and the Internet. Several Linux-based firewall versions are available as free downloads, including one that requires minimum configuration called SmoothWall Express. You don’t have to know anything about Linux to use it; just download the installation files, create a bootable CD and install the application.

Media Station

Buy a wireless headset and turn your PC into a media player. There are plenty of free and versatile media players and online streaming services and using your old computer for your music library will allow you to keep your new PC or Laptop just for work.

Game Server

If you love playing games, you can configure your old computer to handle web traffic while you enjoy playing on your gaming system.

Printing or File Server

If you have or administer a network of computers, you can use your old PC as a remote print or file server. Alternately, you can use the old laptop storage as the file server for the network.

Video Recorder or TV

Invest in a TV tuner card. A TV tuner card is a kind of television tuner that lets television signals be received by a computer. Most also function as video capture cards that allow them to record television programs onto a disk, much like a DVR does.

Granny Guide

Your grandmother may want to try her hand at the computer but, if you don’t want to trust her with your new PC, your old computer is a good one for a novice to start on. She’ll be happy to browse the internet on the older computer and your young children will be able to play classic games on it, too.

Try New Software

Use your old computer to test new apps before installing them on your work PC. If you’ve wanted to try new software, this is a good way to put your old computer to use, providing it meets the software requirements.

Try Linux

If you use Windows, having an extra computer to play with is a great chance to try Linux. Linux demands much less power, so you may be surprised by how smoothly it runs on your old machine.

Make Money

Dismantle the broken computer or laptop and sell the working parts on eBay. You can get cash for a hard drive, A/C adapters, motherboards, RAM, graphics and audio cards and even an undamaged case.

Donate CPU Time

If you would like to donate to science, you can hook up the old computer to the internet, install a program such as SETI@home to run all the time. The computer just sits in an unused corner of your house and requires a monitor only occasionally. Your investment is only a little electricity and bandwidth.

We’re already living in a time where e-junk is creating landfill shortages, so even if you don’t want to use any of the above ideas, at least recycle or donate your old computer so we can all enjoy a greener future.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016